## Philosophy as a cure for mental issues

• 2.9k
When I first joined this board, I saw a lot of posts from what I perceived as kids who weren't all that hip about life, or their parents who dragged them into it, kicking and screaming. Then I saw the following meme the other day, and after I quit laughing, I thought of how inciteful it might be.

I know a person who suffers from anxiety and a few who suffer from depression. I got to thinking about how, if you are going to gaze at your own navel, you ought to at least have the intellectual curiosity to wonder what smarter people have thought who have likewise gazed at their own navels.

I think that if you are depressed, or anxious, and alone, you will find more of the same and get even worse, possible suicidal, if your alleged dive is not deep enough. Go deeper and study it and find out what the experts have to say. Otherwise, you are just a sparkling wannabe, a sparkling poser.

Long story short, if you know someone who is suicidal, depressed or anxious, don't steer them toward psychology, where they might get a degree, and a license, and start blindly leading the blind. Instead, have them study philosophy. That should keep them away from the gun, the needle, or the bridge. If not, then good riddance.

• 10.2k
I know a person who suffers from anxiety and a few who suffer from depression. I got to thinking about how, if you are going to gaze at your own navel, you ought to at least have the intellectual curiosity to wonder what smarter people have thought who have likewise gazed at their own navels.

I am a skeptic when it comes to western philosophy. I keep asking myself "What the fuck are these people talking about?" Much of it just seems like, as you noted, gazing at belly-buttons and getting in profound arguments about the different kinds of lint. But... here on the forum I have met people who were saved by philosophy. It gave them a place to stand. Then they used it to climb up out of the hole they'd dug for themselves or into which they'd been thrown. It is inspiring and moving. I still don't get it, but I get that there is something to be got.

For the record, fucked up people can be very good therapists.
• 4.4k

There may be no clear answers as to whether someone who is anxious, depressed or suicidal will be aided positively by studying psychology or philosophy whether it will make things even worse. To suggest that it should be avoided would be taking the view that exploring psychological areas in more depth would be focusing upon such issues. So, is avoidance preferable?

It is possibly true that the study of psychology may draw people who issues to work upon, although many choose to study it because it has a clear pathway into becoming a clinical psychologist. You appear to be suggesting that it is not a good idea if people who have experiences of depression or any 'mental illness' end up with licences to help others. As so many people have some kind of experience of anxiety or depression this would rule out so many, and from what I have seen in mental health care some experience of mental illness is often valued in the profession, as giving a stepping stone towards an empathetic approach to others' psychological distress.
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Wittgenstein
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It can be, if they are grasped by the arguments and problems.

But it can be very dangerous too, if such a person is feeling depressed, then bumping into the thought of Camus, Schopenhauer, Mainländer or Cioran, among others, might well be the push the sends them off the cliff.

So it's a gamble. But with these types of problems, most things are too. With psychology or psychiatry, if you get stuck with a wrong professional, it can really fuck you up. It's still a work in progress...
• 11.4k
I thought of how inciteful it might be.

:chin:
• 2.9k

My experience is anecdotal. I've seen folks who had "issues" and sought to better understand themselves by pursuing a degree in psychology. They didn't seem to make any headway on their issues but were then saddled with student debt and thought "Meh", I'll just get a license and try to pay it off." I wouldn't ask these people for help if my life depended upon it. I'd rather go to a saloon and talk to the bartender with the philosophy degree. But yeah, I'm sure I'm over-generalizing. Just thought the meme was funny and insightful. People who pound on the philisophical greats seem too perplexed to kill themselves.
• 12.1k
Philosophy as therapy and all that. It's all Wittgenstein.
• 164
Maybe it works for some people, but I myself am skeptical that philosophy is therapeutic. In fact, a lot of the philosophy I took time to read only made my depression and anxiety worse (Schopenhauer). On my best days life affirming thinkers like the Stoics, Nietzsche, and even Heidegger made me feel really good about life, but that alone didn't make my problems go away. That was therapy's job.
• 2.9k
So it's a gamble. But with these types of problems, most things are too. With psychology or psychiatry, if you get stuck with a wrong professional, it can really fuck you up. It's still a work in progress...

:100: :up:

if such a person is feeling depressed, then bumping into the thought of Camus, Schopenhauer, Mainländer or Cioran, among others, might well be the push the sends them off the cliff.

And if they use a gun, we will blame the gun.
• 3k
And if they use a gun, we will blame the gun.

Very true.

In fact, a lot of the philosophy I took time to read only made my depression and anxiety worse (Schopenhauer).

Interesting.

I've always found Schopenhauer's philosophy to be therapeutic. Even being depressed I felt in good company, and when still feeling shitty, but less intensely so, then I would smile at his descriptions and think to myself, yeah it's bad, but not that bad.

Mainländer, on the other hand, should never be read when feeling anything but fine-to-good, otherwise it's very brutal.
• 5.3k
I have worked in the area of mental illness and addition for three decades. Many people with depression struggle to compose a shopping list. Cognitive faculties are often greatly impaired by mental illness and philosophy may be beyond people. Getting moving, staying active, connecting with people generally provides a gradual way out but it isn't straight forward and everyone is different. Many people, as they recover do get into philosophy - often through psychology, which often draws from philosophy - existentialism; phenomenology.

In fact, a lot of the philosophy I took time to read only made my depression and anxiety worse

I think this experience is shared by many people too - I have certainly heard it a lot. It can depend on how your mind works and on what philosophy you are reading.
• 2.5k
Well, Stoicism might help. As more probably will certain drugs. Otherwise, philosophy wouldn't be a cure, I think. It might even be conducive to suicide, if only out of frustration with the fact that we're unable to kill, or sadly even maim, most philosophers whose works we read.
• 13
Hey, I'm fairly new to this forum. But I can completely relate to this theory. I am mentally Ill myself, and reading about and ESPECIALLY writing philosophical reflections based on what I read completely distracts and temporarily lifts my depression and anxiety symptoms. Now I'm only sharing the following to display how bad I'm messed up to compare how well pondering philosophical aspects and concepts can be like temporary medication whilst engaging in such.

I have Bipolar 1 with psychotic features, PTSD, ADHD, Panic Disorder, Major Depression Disorder. And as long as I take my Adderall before reading and writing on this topic, I'm good to go for hours, and not only do I feel "normal" for a few hours, but it also boosts my self-esteem and self-worth; it makes me feel like I have a purpose in this life, in this world we call Earth; which we might as well call "Hell" for a metaphor's sake.

I only ask that whoever reads this and comments is to be kind, because I usually don't air out my private business out in front of who knows how many strangers. But we're going by the topic, so that's what I answered about.
• 3k

Many thanks for sharing that, someone here will identify with what you're saying.

I have my share of disorders too, though not as bad.

It's nice to hear that some of this speculation is genuinely interesting, as it should be. I think Plato onwards would have been pleased that this can be helpful.
• 10.2k
Many people, as they recover do get into philosophy - often through psychology, which often draws from philosophy - existentialism; phenomenology.
The writings of existential psychotherapist Irwin Yalom, I think, would suit many philosophy-inclined patients in recovery.

And if they use a gun, we will blame the gun.
:smirk:

:up:
• 13
I find it very interesting as well. Thank you for starting this particular discussion. :smile:
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• 810

I think each case is different. We can't make a rule out of that. In some cases philosophy might work better, in other cases psychology. It depends from the roots of the mental issue and each person's individual characteristics.In general even in psychotherapy, philosophy can play a crucial role. At the very end isn't psychology itself philosophy's child? For me sure it is, so both are connected.

Me personally I m using the philosophy method,but I guess that's because I m too egoist as to let anyone else tell me what I should do with myself and my life. And what's the right thing for me. I prefer to struggle discover it on my own even if it's a hard battle. Not sure that it's the best method though.
If we are still around here after years i will let you know how it goes.
• 3.4k
if you know someone who is suicidal, depressed or anxious, don't steer them toward psychology, where they might get a degree, and a license, and start blindly leading the blind.

That's an interesting point. I think some people consciously or unconsciously steer themselves in the direction of psychology due to certain issues they have or think they have, and some may actually become successful in helping themselves and others. Unfortunately, others never make it, or try and fail.

I suppose it depends on how advanced their condition is as well as other factors - circumstances, social and cultural influences, luck, destiny, karma, or whatever. But I think in many cases placing them in a situation where they get some emotional support to begin with, tends to help them get back on their feet at least to some extent.
• 2.9k

I don't profess to be an expert in these areas. But I do have an aversion to the idea of some person recognizing their own issues and then, instead of spending $175.00 per hour per week for twenty years to lay on a couch and have someone say "And how does that make you feel", they figure they are too smart for that, and can figure it out on their own if they just go to school and study psych. Then, when they get out of school, they charge some person$175.00 per hour per week to wax on while they just ask "And how does that make you feel."

It's just my outsider-looking-in supposition. Better they all go study philosophy.

Americans want everything and they want it now, and they want it easy. If I recognize I'm sick, or might be sick, because I have a hankering to be a serial killer, then I want to go to a shrink, tell him what's up for an hour, have him/her tell me which switch to flip, pay him/her, walk out, flip the switch and move on with life as a healthy, happy, non-serial killer. But I damn sure don't want to lay on a couch and cough up my life savings for 20 years, and for what? The same thing I can get from the bar tender, or an attorney if I need confidentiality.

Most philosophers I'm aware of are poor. To the extent phych is a step-child of philo, it's an ugly one that figured out how to get rich instead of tending bar.

End rant.
• 5.3k
In the system I work in treatment is free.
• 2.9k
In the system I work in treatment is free.

I've got no truck with the money . . .If it works. Big-bucks per hour is a good investment if there is an end result and in the end it works. But if it takes more time than an average chemo/radiation treatment (six months? A year?), then I'd supsect a scam.

Hopefully you get good results for the person with issues.

I know, it's a complex field, working with the human mind. It takes time. But after a certain point the idea that it is a "practice" becomes a little to real. At some point it's time to quit practicing and start on the real work and getting the job done; and I'm not talking about the patient. We all know they have work to do. I'm just not so sure they are helped or hindered by someone who's practicing on them.
• 10.2k
Most philosophers I'm aware of are poor. To the extent phych is a step-child of philo, it's an ugly one that figured out how to get rich instead of tending bar.

*

(Recorded 1998)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Fingarette
• 3.4k
Most philosophers I'm aware of are poor. To the extent phych is a step-child of philo, it's an ugly one that figured out how to get rich instead of tending bar.

Depending on the type, psychology tends to be science-oriented, but I think it should be borne in mind that psychology emerged out of philosophy and that philosophy has a moral and spiritual dimension to offer that may help where science can’t. I think even culture and religion can be of some use in restoring psychological balance. After all, humans are complex creatures with complex needs, so an exclusively scientific approach should be avoided.

If philosophy helps to bring some order and meaning to someone’s psychology, and I think this was part of the original objective of philosophy, then this can’t be a bad thing. IMO better than putting people on medication, in any case. But, as I said, the issues in question would need to be identified at a fairly early stage in order to have a good chance of success.
• 2.9k

A pretty moving piece. My takeaways:

1. I'm lucky, in that I don't think death is the end, with nothing thereafter. Could be, but I doubt it. Thus, I'm not afraid of death. I'm afraid of dying. I hope it's quick and painless. Other than that, it sounds like a trip. The ultimate trip.

2. His helper deserves \$175.00 per hour.

3. In the end, his wife was real. The trees were real. They mattered.

Thanks for sharing.
• 3k
I'm lucky, in that I don't think death is the end, with nothing thereafter.

You believe in an afterlife of sorts?
• 10.2k
:death: :flower:
• 3.6k

Medication + therapy first. Then philosophy.

I got pretty close to offing myself several years back, some people here might remember my first posts in the old forum...I didn't need philosophy, I needed a balanced neurochemistry. Thankfully I managed to get things more or less in line, though it took years.

Philosophy is only helpful if you have the capacity to form rational judgements of it, otherwise it's dangerous. Very easy to put people over the edge, after which they're liable to do something stupid and hurt themselves or someone else. It's why I try to be gentle to people online, even if they get on my nerves; you never know what they are going through and what role your words might play in their fate.
• 2.9k
You believe in an afterlife of sorts?

I do, but it's not what I hear most folks (who belive in an afterlife) opine.

I believe that we are right now part of All, but we are merely a part of it. When we die, we become it.
• 3k

Ahh, I see. There's plenty of good arguments for such a view, Schopenhauer comes to mind. Spinoza too and Parmenides. Also the Upanishads, etc. etc.

It's quite respectable actually.

I try to be mindful of other people's belief. Though if they just give standard Christian dogma, I suspect, more often than not, they haven't thought about the topic much.
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